Affinity Groups

What is an affinity group? A group of 3 or 4 people who look out for each other and help us all stay safe!

Who should be in affinity groups? People with similar tactical goals should join up with one another–for example, international students may want to group with others who cannot afford the consequences of being arrested. At the same time, it can be good to have experienced protestors join up with inexperienced ones to help give advice and support.

When are affinity groups a good idea? During large demonstrations or protests when results are unpredictable, when arrests are possible, or when it is possible that authorities may use force to quell demonstrators.

Where do affinity groups form? Its probably a good idea to find and form a group before arriving at the protest site. This way you can arrive at the site together so that you can STAY together!

Why affinity groups? It’s a lot easier to make sure we are all safe if everyone has a small group to look out for each other.  Group members can provide support and advice during protests when conditions can change quickly.

How can I form/join an affinity group? Talk to your friends and acquaintances who will be attending the demonstration. You can also reach out to the #occupycuny group, or email the Occupy CUNY Support team at occupycunysupport@googlegroups.com  On the day of the event (in this case, Monday 11/28) we can facilitate the formation of affinity groups on the spot at the Madison Square Park meetup—head there before the demonstration so we can match you up with new friends and so that you can meet and talk with group members and walk over together.

Other affinity group do’s and don’ts:

  • DO: get comfortable and honest with your group: this will help with nerves and giving advice to each other.  Discuss tactics and comfort levels extensively before you go.  Your tactics may shift in the excitement of the protest, but only go as far as the least comfortable person wants to go, and if necessary, switch affinity groups with someone else in the larger group to keep your tactics available to you.
  • DON’T: get separated from your group; if one of you goes to jail, it will be important you find out where they are being detained and how you can get in touch with them.
  • DO: share email, phone and Twitter ID with your group members so you can check in in case you get separated or someone gets arrested. Make a meetup plan for after the protest in case of separation
  • DO: If you are part of a high-risk group that is willing to get arrested, its a good idea to share contact information for legal aid and family/significant others/friends may want you to contact in case of their arrest. Also share your Date of birth if you may get arrested.
  • DON’T: desert your affinity group and be sure to look out for each other.
  • DO: designate a group lookout to keep everyone together and to identify safe ways out of police corrals

(Information adapted form St. Lawrence University protest prep guide)

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